The Big Life Foundation oversees an open area of more than 1.6 million acres between Tanzania and Kenya, protecting the entire African wildlife.
Today, lions are extinct in 26 African countries. The area protected by the association is mainly land belonging to a community of more than 150,000 Maasai people who live there with their livestock. To provide an alternative to the tradition of hunting lions as a rite of passage to adulthood or in retaliation for the predation of their livestock, a sporting event, the Maasai Olympics, was born out of the collaboration between Big Life Foundation and the Maasai “cultural fathers”. The first Maasaï Olympics took place in 2012 and go on every two years since.
The association also created a Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU) which travels the territory daily to respond immediately to any incidents of poaching, ecosystem destruction, the arrest of suspects and the destruction of set traps. It also ensures that animals keep a sufficient distance from villages to limit the risk of conflict. The association has also developed a compensation fund for breeders to offset the loss of their livestock, provided there is no retaliatory hunting.
We support the Maasai Olympics initiative, a programme combining sport and conservation. The skills used in this sporting competition mimic those needed by young Maasai in everyday life, such as hunting. During the competition, athletes compete in six separate events: 200m, 800m, 5000m, javelin throw, rungu (a weapon used to defend against hyenas) and high jump. In 2022, the event gathered 520 participants in the different events and raised awareness among more than 6,000 people through awareness-raising meetings in the different villages. For the first time, two running races were also organised for women, 40 of whom took part in the final.
2022 marked the first year without a single lion killed as a result of reprisals by farmers for attacking their livestock, demonstrating the importance and efficiency of this awareness-raising and the involvement of the local population.